On Thursday, May 31, local media reported that two assailants attacked a military base in Taif after killing a police officer and stealing his weapons and car. The attackers reportedly exchanged gunfire with military officers, wounding several, before one of the assailants was wounded and arrested. The other attacker fled the scene; Saudi authorities have launched a search to find the fleeing assailant. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the incident. Additional attacks on security forces are possible in Taif and in other Saudi cities in the near-term.
Saudi security forces have come under increasing pressure due to the growing threat of both terrorism and cross-border attacks by Houthi militants. Saudi Arabia is engaged in the Yemeni civil war, supporting the government against a rebellion by Houthi separatists ongoing since 2015. Attacks in Saudi Arabia carried out by the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) against security forces and Shi'a Muslims have also become increasingly frequent.
Local authorities typically report an increased terror threat during the month of Ramadan (mid-May to mid-June in 2018), and heightened security measures should be expected in major urban areas, including Mecca. In June 2017, a planned suicide bomb attack on the Grand Mosque during Ramadan was reportedly thwarted by Saudi authorities.
The threat of terrorism in Saudi Arabia remains high throughout the year due generally to the tense regional geopolitical climate, as well as more specifically the country's direct and indirect political and military involvement abroad (e.g. the country's controversial intervention in the ongoing Yemeni conflict). It is estimated that over 2000 Saudis have left the country to join IS, giving rise to fears that they could return to perpetrate attacks within the kingdom.
Individuals in Taif are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant activity, report all suspicious objects and behavior, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
Given the prevailing terrorist risk in Saudi Arabia, those present in the country are advised to exercise caution at all times, to keep a low profile, and to avoid public places lacking adequate security measures or locations deemed particularly likely to be targeted in the event of an attack (e.g., official buildings, military zones, etc.). Report all suspicious objects or behavior to authorities.
Copyright and Disclaimer